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Self-Care

Remember how I said I was following all the stress management guidelines and still feeling overwhelmed?  Well that day there was a car accident with 11 students involved, 1 who died and 3 who are still in critical condition.  The entire college community is grieving, and we have been slammed at the counseling center.   

Every day, multiple times a day, I preach the importance of self-care, which includes:

  • Sleep: I get at least 6 hours but could use more.
  • Eating:  I never skip a meal and eat relatively healthy.
  • Exercise:  I try to play tennis 3x/week and stretch before bedtime.
  • Down Time:  I give myself plenty of down time.  One of the perks of living alone.
  • Putting your needs first:  I am terrible at this. 

In my defense, most helping professionals are pathologically helpful and run the risk of burnout.  In fact, if there were an award for Most Likely to Help Other People Until You Collapse, the physicians in my family would be competing for first place.

I forced my dad to read the blog about him, and after he read it he admitted that spending decades on call 24-7, covering every physician who went out of town over the holidays while we stayed home, probably contributed to his depression.  When my dad was sick, my mom saw both of their patients and took care of my dad.  My brother recently had sinus surgery and was told to take off at least a week from work but went back after 3 days.

So relatively speaking, I’m actually a slacker in my family.

I have been feeling the loss of not having someone to come home to, someone who I can talk about my day with.  I have made an effort to reach out to friends, and they have been incredibly helpful, but it doesn’t take the place of having that person who knows everything that’s going on with you on a day-to-day basis, whether they want to or not. 

So I’m doing what I can to take care of myself.  I went to dinner with friends last night.  I was dead tired but it was a rare opportunity to see my tennis mom, who recently abandoned me by moving to South Carolina.  She reminded me of the hazards of my “save the world” mentality.  I defended myself by saying that I’m not trying to save the world–just the people I meet.  It just so happens that I’m meeting a lot of people right now.

And I’m going to a movie tonight after I go into work to facilitate a debriefing session.  I’m a little worried about being too drained afterwards but I’m making an effort to do something other than sit at home alone all weekend.

And I’m writing this blog.  This is the one place where everything gets to be about me.  I get to talk as much as I want without being interrupted, there are people who are interested in what I have to say, and the feedback is almost always positive.  And for this I am thankful.

About Christy Barongan

I didn't know it at the time, but I wanted to be a psychologist so that I could figure out how to be normal. I think many people come to counseling for the same reason. What I've come to learn is that feeling good about myself is not about trying to be normal. It's about trying to be me. But it's a constant struggle for me, just like it is for everyone else. So I thought I would approach this task with openness and honesty and use myself as an example for how to practice self-acceptance.

7 responses »

  1. When I started taking care of my grandparents, I found an online community to vent and seek help with coping with my care giving role. It helped in so many ways. I was able to vent about my grandmothers stubbornness, my grandfathers lack of wanting to live and everything in-between. But then, the founder of the website asked for memberships to continue being a part of the community. So I stopped visiting. Stopped writing. Started holding everything in. Now, my life has literally hit rock bottom. But thanks to finding your blog, I've found hope again. I've started to journal. And hope to make a blog of my own one day.

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoy reading your blogs and look forward to seeing them daily-honestly, I reread most of them every day.

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  2. Thank you for sharing this, Tizianna. That is exactly what I hoped this blog would accomplish. Your comment has been the highlight of my day. The fact that the blog has provided me with so much support has been a complete surprise. Please do start your own blog. In the Courage to Be Vulnerable post I talk about how ambivalent I was about starting a blog, but it has been the best investment I've made in myself in a long time.

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  3. Jennifer H. Frye

    I have really enjoyed them too and appreciate how you put yourself out there!!

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  4. Thanks Jennifer! No one showed up to the group so it was a big waste of time. But at least I got out of the house and bought non-perishable foods in case I can't leave my house tomorrow!

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  5. It looks like you are affecting change, even in people you don't know. So saving the world, one friend at a time continues to flow. Your blog is probably helping many people, more that you will ever know.

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  6. Thanks Teri! It's a slow process but somebody's got to do it!

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  7. Pingback: Three Years Later… | Normal in Training

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